Creating Awareness with Tomorrow's Leaders

Written by Cath Jakins, YouthForLions Coordinator

Published on 10 Dec, 2018

Welcome to the new YouthForLions Blog, and welcome to our very first blog post. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Cath, the new Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ Coordinator. My role at ‘YouthForLions’ is to raise awareness and educate the youth of South Africa (and the world) about the captive breeding of lions in South Africa and the importance of not interacting with these majestic animals.

When I joined the Blood Lions team in June, I was a little bit nervous about speaking in front a big group of people. But less than a month into my new job, my first presentation was a 15 minute talk to a hall of over 400 school children and their teachers. And it was fantastic!

One of my favourite parts of these presentations is when I ask who has touched a lion or another wild animal. Seeing majority of the hands in the room (including mine) go up will always take my breath away. The sheer number of people, both young and old, who have been duped by the con that is cub petting, is shocking.

I usually follow on from this with a video clip about why we shouldn’t be petting lion cubs. During the clip I like to look around the room to gauge the audience’s reactions. Some look sad, some seem indifferent but almost always, most are shocked. Interacting with wild animals is a popular holiday activity around the world. From elephant back rides in India to lion cub petting in South Africa, wildlife interactions are what many people crave when going on holiday. What majority of holiday makers don’t realise though is the massive negative impact they are having on the lives of these animals.

Generally, lion cubs that are born in captivity are taken away from their mothers when they are between 3 and 10 days old. The reason for this is so that the mothers go straight back into oestrus when their cubs are removed from them. This practice is done to ensure that they will breed again immediately. In captivity, lionesses often breed up to four or five times faster than they would in the wild.

Cubs that are hand raised, bottle fed and used for cub petting attractions grow up to be used in lion walking attractions. These sub-adult lions are trained, pretty much the same way that circus animals are trained, to climb trees and pose on rocks for “selfies”.

Once fully grown, these now tame lions are often sold to captive hunting establishments where they are added to a catalogue, and given a price to be shot and killed by “canned” or captive lion hunters from around the world. Because they have been so used to people feeding and handling them, they are not afraid of humans and seldom run away or try to defend themselves. This is just one of the ways in which hand reared and bottle fed lion cubs end up. Others are kept in their small enclosures and killed so that their bones can be exported to South East Asia to supplement the tiger bone trade.

My focus at YouthForLions is to educate young people about the captive lion breeding industry and related activities, and to create change in the future. We believe that awareness of the horrific conditions in which many of these animals live, and the fate that awaits them, will discourage most people from visiting or supporting facilities that contribute to these industries.

Our wildlife is our heritage, and it is the youth of today who will be the custodians of tomorrow!

To get involved and spread the word, visit our website and follow us on social media where you can like and share all our posts.

If you would like me to visit your school or university and host a screening or presentation, email me on Keep an eye on our social media pages for blog updates from now on.

The NSPCA has huge animal welfare concerns for the animals exploited in the captive predator and canned hunting industry in South Africa. This industry is unregulated, uncontrolled and is responsible for untold cruelty. It is a tragedy that our wild animals are reduced to profit making machines. Coupled with this members of public are unwittingly encouraging and supporting this cruelty, so it is vital that the public are aware of the truth behind the industry so they can make informed decisions and hopefully choose not to support such an unethical industry.

Sr.Ainsley Hay, Manager, NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit

Breeding magnificent wild creatures like lions in camps so that they can be slaughtered for ego and money is unconscionable and should be outlawed.  Lions have the right to live in the wild and to continue playing their unique role within the ecological communities of Africa.  The continued existence of the canned hunting industry is a moral outrage that diminishes us all.  This important film shines a light into the dark corners of this ugly business.

Cormac Cullinan, Cullinan & Associates Incorporated

Cruel, barbaric, macabre – all words used by Australian MPs about lion farming and the canned lion hunting industry in SA.  Our campaign was glad to be able to assist and participate in a full length documentary that aims to expose a brutal industry whose whole business model is routine, egregious cruelty to helpless animals – for fun.

Chris Mercer, Founder, CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting)

Captive lions have long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape and their tragic story needed to be exposed before these practices negatively impacted on Brand South Africa. Congratulations to all involved in taking the time and making this happen.

Colin Bell, Tourism consultant and author of “Africa’s Finest”

“As a travel and conservation based organization, we find the “Blood Lions” documentary deeply disturbing. Despite being hard to watch, we urge people to get out there and see it. It is important to shed light on the dark and corrupt business of rearing lions for the purposes of hunting, in hopes of making a positive change. As we polled our membership, we found that individually each of our companies have chosen to stop booking all activities that contribute to this industry.”

The Safari Professionals – 30 Tour Operators based in the US and Canada

South Africa’s failure to address the canned hunting industry has emboldened those who make a living out of the death of lions bred, raised and slaughtered on a ‘no kill, no fee’ basis. The canned hunting industry is unnatural, unethical and unacceptable. It delivers compromised animal welfare and zero education. It undermines conservation and creates a moral vacuum now inhabited by the greed and grotesque self-importance of those who derive pleasure in the taking of life.

Blood Lions lays bare the truth behind the canned hunting industry that, far from contributing to the future survival of the species, may, in fact, accelerate extinction in the wild, leaving behind a trail  littered with rotting corpses of its helpless and hopeless victims.

Will Travers OBE, President Born Free Foundation

The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, in providing support for the making of this Documentary, does so in the firm belief that it is important that the true facts behind captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting in South Africa, is brought to the attention of a global audience in order to create awareness which in turn will lead to much needed change.

Les Ward MBE, Chairman, The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust

This is a timely, courageous as well as a deeply disturbing documentary. It is at the same time, a voice for the wild and the voiceless … of saying “NO MORE!” to that terrible triad of financial opportunism, deceit and indifference to the non-human animal by those claiming to be conservationists.

Ian McCallum – Author, poet, psychiatrist and naturalist

With the constant pressure on wildlife, every effort must be made to keep our last vestiges of natural fauna and flora protected.    Canned hunting of any kind, along with the related consequences, must be condemned by humanity as not only a travesty of nature but also an utterly inhumane practise.   Taming lion cubs only to later hunt them is an utterly inhumane practice.   It is pseudo-hunting, a complete sham and does not even qualify as hunting on a sustainable use basis.   Wildlife conservation has to evolve into practices that are ethical, humanitarian and sustainable. This will not be achieved if there is not real and fair community involvement which has not been part of the hunting fraternity’s evolution.

Yvette Taylor, Executive Director, The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation

“Canned lion ‘hunting’ is nothing less than a bargain basement opportunity for foreign hunters to engage in one of South Africa’s most sordid practices. Hunting of captive bred lions entirely dependent on human fingerprints from cub to trophy is immoral, unethical and against all animal welfare concerns. The fact that it still continues as profitable commerce is a damning statement against all of us who have not properly engaged to snuff it out. Blood Lions is a good start to bring change.”

Dr Pieter Kat – Director: LionAid

Canned Lion